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Saxonburg plan for 2014 holds line on taxes, increases spending

| Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

Saxonburg's proposed 2014 budget keeps taxes steady as the borough faces rising health care costs and lower projected revenues.

The $646,500 spending plan represents about a 1 percent increase over the current budget. The borough's real estate tax is 18.66 mills.

Borough manager Mary Papik recommended that borough double the amount already set aside in this year's budget for vehicle purchase or repair and building maintenance in lieu of funding them next year.

The borough's 2013 revenues were higher than anticipated and funds budgeted for expenses such as engineering services went unused, Papik said.

“When we can beat the budget next year by double-funding them this year, we're gaining ground,” Papik said.

The borough will set aside a total of $6,000 for the vehicle fund and $10,000 for the building fund.

Council President William Gillespie Jr. said council is pleased with the budget.

“It's a lot less dramatic than it has been in years past,” he said.

Last year, the borough faced a deficit and raised taxes to help cover it and pay for debt service on a stormwater project.

One area Gillespie expressed concern about is the borough's rising health care costs.

The borough and Saxonburg Area Authority share the $191,771 cost for health care for 12 employees. The borough's share is about $48,500.

That's about double what it was in 2012, Gillespie pointed out.

He believes costs could increase if insurance companies incur more expenses than anticipated because of people signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama-care.

Gillespie anticipates insurance carriers passing those costs along to their clients in the form of premium hikes.

“It's probably going to be a big problem in the future because insurance companies have to recoup their expenses somewhere,” he said.

In other business

Council voted to accept administrative responsibility for overseeing the Main Street Project contractor's maintenance bond agreement. The bond requires the contractor to replace dead trees and damaged bricks.

The John Roebling Historic Saxonburg Society oversaw the project, but Bob Kaltenhauser, the Main Street Project Manager, told the borough he can no longer devote as much time to the project.

The society feels no other members can take on the job.

Papik, borough public works superintendent Tom Knights and the staff will share the responsibility of taking reports about damage and contacting the contractor to schedule repairs.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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